More often than not, Saturday finds us Social bitches in a deep, deep state of hangover. The only reliable cure is a decadent brunch boasting the finest in local produce, and of course yet more alcohol. Which is how we recently discovered our love for absolutely everything about the Printing Press.
For a start, the decor is fabulous. It’s elegant, dark in hue, and slightly moody. It also pays tribute to the fact this was once the home of romantic novelist Susan Ferrier.
Which in case you didn’t know, is said by everyone from Sir Walter Scot to Val McDermid to be Scotland’s answer to Jane Austen. Oh yes, we do love a bit of history.
Anyhoo … more than two centuries later, the Social Bitches have come to brunch. Three courses to be exact, and the plan is to thoroughly take our time.
The waitress, who’s utterly lovely, leads us to a table dappled in sunlight, and insists we start drinking immediately. Loving her style, and being easily misled, we’re soon sipping a glass of Prosecco, and enjoying the RnB playing gently in the background.
Encouraged to go at our own pace, which today appears to be dead-slow-and-stop, we eventually head to the antipasti table. It’s a simple spread we grant you, but one that’s rich in both flavour and in quality.
Here charcuterie and cornichons await, as well as a gorgeous range of salads. The Caesar merits special mention, as does the dressing – a simple mix of mustard, white vinegar, honey and olive oil that dazzles the tastebuds.
And then there’s the freshly baked rye bread with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, which we’re finding wildly addictive.
Half a loaf or so later, Isaac wrestles the butter knife from my plumpish fingers, and insists we save room for the main course. He’s right of course, damn him, but my god that’s bread’s incredible!
Naturally, this cursory nod to restraint is soon forgotten as we agree to share three main courses between the two of us.
First to arrive is the Homemade pancakes with berry compote, maple syrup, and whipped crowdie. Always impressed by size, Isaac positively beams with delight.
But while these pancakes are indeed colossal, they’re also perfectly formed: thick, fluffy, and with a slightly crisp exterior. The compote, meanwhile, is wonderfully tart, and whoever suggested the dazzling pop that the crowdie delivers is an absolute genius.
Equally moreish is the Smoked Scottish Salmon with homemade sourdough, chopped free-range egg, Orkney brown crab mayonnaise, and caviar. Once again, it’s a dish of generous proportions, that looks Instagram-perfect, and somehow tastes even better.
Obviously there’s a delicate hand at work here. We have incredibly inventive contrasts in flavour, faultless presentation, and a comfort-food-feel, but without any of the stodginess. That’s one very tough balancing act, and we are officially impressed.
We’re also happy to report the sides are just as enticing. The Grilled streaky baconis cooked to perfection, while the Sautéed chestnut mushrooms with tarragon butteris an absolute triumph.
So much so it has completed Isaac’s long, long journey from being a man who cares not for mushrooms, to one who found this dish an almost spiritual experience.
But let’s talk about the Printing Press’s number one cure for a hangover: the Smoked ham hock, garden pea and Isle of Mull cheddar potato cake. Wowers! Especially when combined with the wonderfully thick and fiery Arran mustard mayonnaise.
Again, we can definitely wax lyrical about taste and girth – it’s heaven in breadcrumbs – but what’s really impressive is how it delivers utter satisfaction, without rendering you unable to move, or contemplate another course. Which of course, we soon did.
After a little more Prosecco, which our lovely waitress again insisted upon, our indulgent brunch is topped off with a visit to the somewhat overflowing dessert table.
Brownies, puddings, and a wonderfully moist carrot cake all vie for our attention, but the real star is the rather luscious eclairs. But which to choose? Raspberry and Gummy Bear, Salted Caramel & Chocolate, or Blueberry & Cream Cheese?
Our recommendation: have all three. After all, when curing a hangover, you really do have to be better safe than sorry!
In a pre-theatre nutshell:
Edinburgh Playhouse 14 minute walk / Rose Street Theatre 11 minutes
Lunch / dinner
Weekend Brunch 12 noon until 3:30pm
Three courses £28 pounds including a glass of Prosecco.
21- 25 George Street
0131 240 7177